Vaccine rollout: Claims of family involvement in distribution of doses is 'fake news' - Mpumalanga premier

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Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane.
Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane.
City Press
  • Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has slammed as fake news allegations that she appointed a family member to undertake vaccine rollout. 
  • This follows a viral social media message alleging a company, Jova Vaccines Supply, is owned by the premier's daughter.
  • The company's director, Serati Simon Mashilo, denied he had any contracts in the province, but said he would like to get involved in the rollout.

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane has condemned as "fake news" allegations that a family member has been appointed to distribute Covid-19 vaccine supplies in the province. 

On Tuesday morning, a post went viral on social media purporting to show the recent registration of a company allegedly lined up to benefit from the rollout of the vaccine.

The accompanying caption says that "this company registered on 29 January 2021 owned by the daughter of the premier of Mpumalanga was given a tender of R200 million to distribute vaccines before they arrived, with an upfront payment of R1.5 million on Friday… It got the tender the day it was registered."

In a statement, Mtsweni-Tsipane said "no member of the premier's family is involved in an enterprise called "Jova Vaccines Supply".

However, Mtsweni-Tsipane did not clarify whether the company had indeed been appointed to carry out work for the province. 

A search on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission database found that much of the content of the post may be disputed at present.

READ | Cele wants probe into Mpumalanga premier who was caught not wearing a mask

What is immediately apparent is that Jova Vaccines Supply is a registered private company. It is also a fact that the private enterprise was registered on 29 January 2021. As its director, Jova Vaccines Supply lists a Serati Simon Mashilo, who is emphatically not the daughter of the Mpumalanga premier.

Speaking to News24, Mashilo explained that "many people were criticising me that I had this connection with the ANC, but you see I'm not working at the moment. I've just registered the company for interest sake, so if they call us".

When asked if he had any contracts with the Mpumalanga health department, or whether he was related to the premier of the coal-rich province, Mashilo replied, "not at all".

"I want to be connected there. I want to apply to do that rollout thing," he said.    

Spokesperson for the premier, Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni, in a response to the allegations levelled on social media, added that "the premier reiterated the message of the president that the distribution of the vaccine and all ancillary logistics will be coordinated by the IMC [inter-ministerial committee]."

"The premier has urged the people of Mpumalanga to afford the IMC sufficient time to outline the distribution of the vaccines to provinces."

This is not the first time the premier has been drawn into public controversy.

At the funeral of the late Jackson Mthembu, the premier was seen walking around the venue without a mask. 

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